This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15 -- Feast of Saint Jacob of Nisibis

Holy anti-Arian ark hunter
Before getting to the fun stuff, I feel obliged to lay out Jacob's bona fides.  He attended and was a signatory at the First Council of Nicea, the first big ecumenical council of Christianity, where the most learned and influential Christians tried to articulate what the Faith was (and was not).  He is considered a Doctor of the Church by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.  Ephrem of Syria, recognized as a Doctor of the Church by Roman Catholics, Armenians, Syro-Malabar Catholics, and Anglicans, considered Saint Jacob to be his spiritual father.  In short, he was a big deal in fourth century Christianity and those were formative years for the Faith.  Now the fun stuff.

Very public place for a very painful death
Stone Cold Killer -- As recent events attest, the Mesopotamians are not a squeamish people.  Jacob seems to have been as hard-hearted as any Alawite general or Shi'a cleric might be today.  When Arius, the popular leader of the heretical sect Arianism, was permitted by the Emperor Constantine to return to Constantinople, Alexander the Patriarch and Jacob openly prayed for his death.  According to the contemporary writer Socrates Scholasticus, Arius was parading through the streets like a triumphant general when suddenly he was struck with urgency in his bowels.  Hastening to the latrine, he suffered such a violent evacuation that his intestines distended, he hemorrhaged, and he discharged portions of his spleen and liver.  That some bad-ass, hard-hearted praying right there.

Temptresses hard at work, washing their clothes in sin
Arbiter of Decency --  Later, as a grumpy old bishop walking into town, he saw some washerwomen doing laundry in the creek.  They had pulled up their hems to keep their skirts from being soaked as they worked, and they had also taken off their veils.  Laundry is a physically demanding job and having their heads wrapped in the heat of the Levantine sun just seemed unnecessary to them.  It did not strike Jacob as unnecessary, however.  He considered their relaxed attire to be indecent and scandalous.  With a quickly muttered curse from him, their long dark hair bleached snow-white.  They begged him to restore the color to their hair, promising to be more modest while working, but instead he told them they could go about without veils all they wanted, so their hair would be a warning to other women about maintaining propriety.

All right, who summoned the kraken?
Raider of the Older Ark -- In his later years, he took a notion to find Noah's ark.  Mount Ararat is about seventy miles from Nisibis.  He was en route, camping on a nearby mountain called Cudi Dagi, when an angel appeared to him in a dream.  The angel declared that he would not survive the climb to the ark; instead, he should be content with the fragment of the ark delivered to him in recognition of his faith.  When he awoke, a fragment of the ark had been placed beside him.  He took the relic back to Nisibis, where he died during the siege by Sapor II.  The relic of Noah's ark is claimed by Holy Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia.  A youtube video shows the relic here. Note that some folks call him James instead of Jacob. 

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